Thursday, December 30, 2010

Academic Resolutions

I don't normally make New Year's resolutions, and I don't plan on making any explicitly this year, but the coming of a new year feels like a good time to reflect on what we can do better.

So in the spirit of the tradition, I'll list some things many of us researchers (especially computer scientists) could work on in the coming year.
  • Finish writing papers at least a week before the (conference) deadline. That way, you can spend the last week improving the writing and rechecking the results.
  • Write up results immediately.  This will make writing papers much easier, and you can make sure your work is correct before moving on to the next thing.
  • Do reviewing in advance. We often have months to do our reviews, but often end up leaving them for the last week.  Even just reading a paper long before a review is due lets the ideas sink in a lot better.
  • Make journal versions (especially of conference papers that don't include full proofs). Until you've given a complete proof, people are justified in questioning your theorems.
  • Read more. It never hurts.
  • Enjoy work but also leave time to enjoy life.
Feel free, of course, to add to the list in the comments.

And have a happy New Year!

If you are serious about making resolutions and following through on them, check out beeminder. They seem to have good ideas on how to make your future self behave.


  1. Some of these seem to contradict each other - especially the last one with the previous ones ;-)

  2. A lot of these are actually about timing. You need to write your results, papers, and reviews anyway, so doing these things earlier just shifts the work a different time. And reading might even save you work in the future... but you're right to an extent, of course :)

  3. Anonymous1:01 AM

    When I do things earlier, there is less time pressure, so I spend more time on them, so I am less efficient, so it is better to procrastinate, so I do.

  4. Anonymous4:56 AM

    Thanks for the beeminder plug, Lev! We're still in private beta but readers of this blog can jump the queue by using the invite code ROOMFORDOUBT.

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